“Do you think car engines are better quality now than they were 20 years ago?”
“In general, yes. But not better than 40 years ago.”
I asked my best friend this question because he is currently rebuilding his 1974 El Camino. He is a car nut and mechanical genius. His answer caught me off guard, so I dug for clarity.
“What made cars that much better 40 years ago?”
His reply made me think of the current state of marketing.
“Durability. They are not over engineered. Sheer power without technology. If tech were applied to classic engine design, power would be limitless, efficient, and nearly indestructible.”
There’s no denying the power of technology to empower our cars or our marketing. We can make cars with significantly less emissions and much higher fuel efficiency. Similarly, our marketing can be targeted more precisely and we have more information about our readers than ever before.
Much like my friend believes in the fusion of old designs and modern tech in cars, I believe in the fusion of old marketing methods with new analytics and distribution technology.
In particular, there’s one old fashioned marketing tool that businesses have relied on for decades and can still be used to create “Ah ha!” moments in your customers. It has a few advantages over digital media:
- It allows you to walk away with all the information that caught your eye and keep it for later, unlike a Facebook Ad. Ever tried finding a Facebook ad after leaving the page? Not fun.
- Carrying the information with you or storing it in your car, briefcase, day planner, or laptop case is a lot easier than trying to find a landing page, or even a website on your phone. Also, it’s more comfortable to read paper than a screen.
- You don’t have to pay for ad space. Once you have it, you can put it anywhere.
- It offers more information than a business card and will be trusted more than a blog post.
As a small business owner, you can always rely on the power of this classic tool – a well written brochure.
Here’s what makes brochures a hard-pulling engine for your marketing campaign:
All Function, No Distraction
My wife and I traveled through the UK and Ireland late in 2013. While in Dublin, there was a map that we used all the time and it was also a brochure. Even though we had our mobile devices and laptops, this piece of glossy paper was our life-line.
That’s the functional power of a brochure. Our devices are cluttered with apps, pictures, and videos. Having a physical object, free of distraction, can be refreshing.
Brochures that are selling a product can be just as useful as a map. Think about your customers’ purchase process. Are there a lot of factors for them to consider? Having a brochure on hand, detailing your products specifications and benefits, will give you an advantage as they compare other products.
Let’s not ignore the potential of digital media, but let’s not forget the power of printed material.
Not Just a Throw-Away
Why do successful companies pour millions of dollars into producing something that people could just throw away?
First of all, a similar question could be asked about display ads (in print or on social media), “Why would you pour so much money into something that most people are going to ignore?”
Because in both cases, people pay attention. If you’re creating copy that gets a gut reaction from people, your display ads will inspire the right kind of curiosity and your brochures will stay in the pockets of motivated buyers.
When you walk into a business you may have to wait for service or pick through a large selection. Using a brochure to help you navigate the options or to educate you as you wait improves your experience with that business.
When you’re done for the day and walk out of the building, you’re likely to take the brochure with you. It has become a part of your experience and your decision making process.
When the material is valuable to your final decision, it’s going to stay with you until you finally hand money to someone.
People Trust Print
A survey done in June 2014 by Marketing Sherpa revealed that most people are willing to trust print material before digital media.
Your customers will settle for blog posts and online reviews. But if they have a brochure in their hands, that’s going weigh heavier in their decision making process.
This is your opportunity to lead people to the right conclusions about your values. Make your company philosophy plain in print. Don’t say, “This is our philosophy,” but tell stories that make your values hard to ignore.
Tell stories about the people you’ve served, about your manufacturing and development process, about your history and why you do what you do. With a brochure you have time to lay it out in a logical, yet emotional way.
Even in a multi-page product brochure that focuses on specifications, you can tell the story behind the specifications. A product or service designed to be a solution to someone’s problem will have customer-oriented reasons behind many of the dimensions and quirks that make it unique. Those are good stories to tell.
Greater Emotional Impact
Handling a physical object generates emotional memories. This study has the science and brain scans to prove it.
That’s not to say digital media can’t be emotionally engaging, but print material will make those emotions more memorable.
It’s not just about proving that your product or service has emotional benefits, but creating a connection right then and there.
Tell true stories that give readers what they’re looking for. But don’t fabricate anything. And stay away from hyperbole. Let the facts stand for themselves. Just make sure you have an excellent copywriter and designer on hand to present those facts in the most impacting order.
You Can Get Graphic
That’s part of the beauty of a brochure, you combine the hard-pulling copy of a sales letter with the stimulating graphics of a magazine ad.
Think of the power of Wiki-How and infographics. A brochure that makes a complicated process easy to understand, or that attractively presents specifications, is a keeper for sure. Personally, I have a hard time throwing things away if they are attractive, even though they may not hold much use for me.
For the cost of designing an infographic, you can also produce a brochure from it as well. All you have to cover is the printing cost. The cheapest I found was vistaprint.ca: 250 brochures for $150 ($0.60 per brochure), 500 brochures for $225 ($0.45 per brochure). The price per brochure just keeps dropping from there.
In contrast, a full page magazine ad will cost you thousands of dollars. Plus, for a typical tri-fold brochure, you can use both sides of the page instead of just one.
If you’re looking for a marketing tool that is going to present your offer fully and persuasively, a brochure is a must.
If you want to give the reader something that they can use and hold onto, something that will last for as long as they need it, give them a brochure.
If you want to establish trust and create a deeper emotional impression, brochures are your go-to resource.
If you want the creative capacity of a magazine ad or infographic for a fraction of the traditional promotional cost, the brochure is your best option.
Digital media is growing in influence, but brochures will always have a place of power in any marketing campaign.